We're all familiar with that feeling the morning after chugging down a few (or more than a few) drinks. Although you promised yourself the last time that you won't ever drink again, here you are with a pounding headache, distressing nausea, and crippling fatigue. Hangovers are not pretty. However, there are cures for this terrible phenomenon. We outline hangover cures that are backed by science and even give you some tips for preventing this alcohol-induced ailment.

What Causes A Hangover?

drunk man holding a glass of alcohol

There have been many studies that set out to test the many theories about the exact culprit of a hangover. Research has suggested that congeners in alcohol affect the chances of getting a hangover. Drinks with low congeners include vodka, gin, and rum, while beverages with high congeners include brandy, whiskey, and bourbon. A study published in the Journal of the National Medical Association tested the effect of heavy drinking with high and low congener alcoholic beverages. It found that alcohols with higher congeners had an impact on hangover severity and produced symptoms like dizziness, nausea, and bad breath that low congener alcohol did not.

Similarly, another study indicated that elevated levels of acetaldehyde, a compound the liver creates when metabolizing alcohol, causes increased skin temperature, headache, increased heart rate, nausea, and dry mouth. Also, researchers reported that increased acetaldehyde levels cause alcohol not to be metabolized properly.

Others assert that your immune system is responsible for your hangover. A Korean study found a relationship between hangovers and cytokines, a substance that is secreted by immune cells and has an effect on cell communication and inflammation. To explain, those with hangovers had high levels of cytokines which further proves the argument that a hangover is an inflammatory response.

Hangover Cures

While countless studies and theories aim to understand hangovers fully, what is known about them is that they are a pain. However, if you find yourself the morning after a long night with a killer hangover, there are ways to reduce its symptoms.


water pouring into a glass

One of the best things you can do if you wake up the classic hangover symptoms is to drink up - -water that is. Alcohol is a diuretic meaning that it increases the output of urine and depletes electrolytes. Additionally, excessive drinking may lead to vomiting which in turn causes you to become even more dehydrated.

Although dehydration isn't the sole cause of your hangover, it is responsible for many of the symptoms including a headache, fatigue, dizziness, and dry mouth. Therefore, increasing your water intake can help to reduce your symptoms. Some even swear by sports drinks and electrolyte replacements like Gatorade and Pedialyte, and it is also a smart idea to drink other fluids like coconut water and bouillon soup to help replenish potassium and salt you've lost.

Additionally, you may find it beneficial hydrate by sipping on herbal teas like peppermint and ginger. These will help to restore fluid levels and also relieve nausea and vomiting.

The first thing you should do to help knock out your hangover, pour yourself a glass of water or a hydrating drink.


girl sleeping

High amounts of alcohol cause sleep disturbances which cause fatigue and the overall feeling of malaise. Not to mention, poor sleep quality exacerbates hangover symptoms. Thus, it is important to get as much rest after a night of excessive drinking because it allows your body to recover.

Carb Up

toast in toaster

Sorry all the carb-phobes out there, if you want to help ease your hangover, you're gonna have to eat some carbs. The reason being is that excessive alcohol consumption lowers your blood sugar and contributes to hangover symptoms like dry mouth and fatigue. Usually your blood sugar level drops, the liver will work to produce glucose from stored carbs. However, after heavy drinking, your liver is too busy metabolizing the alcohol to produce glucose. Therefore, eating carbohydrates is a great way to raise your blood sugar. Preferably, eat healthy carbs for breakfast including wheat cereal, oatmeal, bananas, apples, and sprouted bread. If you're feeling nauseous and can't bear the thought of downing a hearty breakfast, nibbling on a piece of dry toast will make you feel better.

Take Supplements

vitamin supplements

There isn't a magic pill that can make your hangover vanish (oh, how we wish this were so), but there are supplements that help to reduce symptoms.

*Prickly pear: *A 2004 study found that prickly pear extract greatly decreased hangover symptoms and reduced the risk of hangover severity by 50%.

*Borage oil: *Borage oil is extracted from the seeds from starflower and is known to improve a hangover. The effectiveness of borage oil on hangover symptoms was tested and was found to improve symptoms of 88% of participants.

*Red Ginseng: *This supplement is known to reduce blood alcohol levels along with the severity of hangover symptoms.

Hangover Prevention

The best hangover cure is prevention. The next time your next night out, use some of these tips to ensure that the morning after is hangover-free.

Pace Yourself

friends enjoying beer

The body metabolizes about one drink (one shot, beer, etc.) per hour. The faster you drink, the faster your blood alcohol level rises which increases the chances of waking up with a hangover. With that said, resist the temptation to knock back multiple shots or drinks in a short time span. The rule of thumb is one drink an hour.

Hydrate While You Drink

Another hangover prevention method is to stay hydrated while you drink. A rule to follow is to have one glass of water per drink. This way you're counteracting the dehydrating effect that alcohol has.

Choose Your Drink Wisely

bottle of jack daniels

As explained earlier, darker drinks, or those with a higher amount of congeners, result in more severe hangover symptoms. Thus, if you plan on drinking more than one drink be sure to stick to drink that is low in congeners. It is also a good idea to sip champagne. It has been proven that the bubbles in champagne accelerate the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream which will get you intoxicated faster. With that said, drinks that include carbonated liquid also have the same effect. If you want to save yourself a morning of nursing a headache and dry heaving, steer clear from the bubbly drinks.

Don't Smoke

Yes, that may sound like a D.A.R.E campaign, but skipping cigarettes makes greatly reduces your risk of a hangover. A study that followed 113 college students and their drinking and smoking habits and the severity of their hangovers and found that those who smoked had worse hangovers than those who didn't smoke.

Pop a Pain Reliever

two pain relief pills

As we know, alcohol causes an inflammatory response in the body, and the best way to ease the effects is by taking an anti-inflammatory. Before you snooze off the booze, take ibuprofen or Naprosyn. Be sure to stay away from pain relievers containing acetaminophen for it can damage your kidneys and liver when taken after consuming alcohol.

Take a Disco Nap

You've probably heard of the disco nap. If not, it is the nap you take before you head out for a night on the town. Sleep does not prevent a hangover altogether, but it does improve your immunity and prep your body for a long night of heavy drinking.

Eat Before You Drink

Andrey Armyagov/Shutterstock

This is a common sense preventative measure, but many skip dinner and go straight to the booze--don't be like them. Eating before you take a sip of alcohol slows down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream and prevents you from getting drunk too fast.

Before you drink, make sure to eat a meal that contains healthy fat, carbs, and protein. An ideal pre-drink dinner would be a juicy burger or grilled salmon with potatoes. The amino acids and B-vitamins help to process the by-products of the alcohol.

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